LoJ: #224 (Pre-LiDAR #219) / 13,545' Tower Mountain

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Howardsville
Summit Location › N 37° 51' 26.48", W 107° 37' 23.42" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A relatively easy, Class 2 day hike from a verdant and scenic valley with abundant summer wildflowers and nice photographic opportunities. Pre-Lidar elevation was 13,552.

Tower Mtn. NW Ridges Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From S. Fork Cement Creek: 9mi / 2,400'
  • Trailhead
    • S. Fork Cement Creek TH

      From the town of Silverton, drive east to the edge of town and one block past the courthouse, where the paved road splits, go straight. Then, drive north on Road 110, (or 10 according to some sources), a graded dirt road, all the way to the old townsite of Gladstone. Note that another fork of this road 110 goes up along the Animas River from out of Silverton if using the Trails Illustrated map #141. The road along the Animas is signed with a blue sign that reads County Road 2. Do not take that fork. At the intersection around Gladstone, head SE a brief distance, follow a switchback up a very short hill, then turn south immediately on road 52 that climbs into the upper South Fork of Cement Creek where it terminates just below a small, unnamed lake. Park here. The last two miles on road 52 will be rougher. A higher clearance vehicle is recommended.


      You can car-camp overnight at or around the trailhead or at a few other possible spots on the last two miles in above Gladstone. Be careful regarding private property.

    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info Tower Mtn. NW Ridges

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1997

    From the trailhead, follow a faint old trail eastward from the end of road parking area up a low ridge overlooking the lake. This trail will branch after a few hundred yards. Take the left branch which is a designated trail that will switchback and gain an upper basin area starting at 11,800 feet. If you miss this trail, you'll find yourself coming to the crossing of a small stream flowing down to the lake. Turn around and you'll see the trail you missed back below you a little. Most of this part of the ascent will be on tundra. The correct trail will lead north to cross a ridge at 12,200 feet. Then it swings back to the SE. There's no need to take this out-of-the-way trail all the way around the ridge crossing. From the basin at 11,800 feet, walk up basin some and then use one of several game trails that gain a tundra ridge on the north side of the basin. A faint trail on this ridge will lead east and upward. Head in the general direction of a point marked on the map at 12,110 ft. along this ridge, then turn more NE and head toward the ridge above on tundra to another point, 12,601. Once on this main ridge, follow it south and upward on a fair trail to Pt. 12,931 and keep following the ridge over a few bumps to 13,060. The faint trail drops south here to a cairn with a metal stake. This is the decision point. For Tower, follow a pretty easy to follow trail southward which will lead all the way to the summit. For East Storm, it's time to turn right and follow the ridge heading in that direction. For Tower, follow the main ridge SE toward Tower Mtn. Even though much of this ridge walk appears very narrow on the map, it is never problematic. Gain the final 500 feet to the summit of Tower. Most of the ridge hike will be on tundra with some talus and moderately rocky sections. From the dominant summit, take in the surrounding views of the verdant green valleys below. The tundra here in mid-summer looks like a green carpet that's been rolled out across the mountains.

    From Tower, you may want to consider a trip over to Dome (feasible) or on your way back down, turn off to the west and bag UN13,325. Climbing Storm Peak from this access would be much more difficult than the route we took.

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